A global Tottenham Hotspur podcast and viewpoint, by the fans for the fans.
by Aaron Wolfe
This past week I sat hunched over my computer, giddy with anticipation about the single thing that had taken over my social media feeds and conversations. I had been waiting for this. We all had — all us obsessed and rabid fans. We had been disappointed in the past but this time, we told our ourselves, this time would be different.
And it was.
Gone were the horrible characters that seemed so out of place. The missteps that were so obviously made out of desperation and lack of imagination. Gone were the cartoonish villains, the silliness, and the lack of creativity.
Instead I found familiar shapes zipping around firing lasers. I found storylines that defied expectations, hints of a once great past that might return, and how pretty it all was! But of course, the greatest thing was the return of a familiar face and his partner a 7 foot tall wookie… named Federico Fazio.
Oh yeah, also the Star Wars trailer came out. That was cool, too.
But the game! The game! What a relief that was. A return to form? Maybe. A hint of what’s to come? Who knows. A solid team performance that reminded all of us of why we love this club and why we should tune in to the remaining games? Definitely.
Across the board we played wonderfully. For the second week in a row Vorm has quieted the little panic within me that says “Lloris is going, he’s going and you’ll suffer.” If Lloris goes we’ll be weaker, but watching Vorm patrol his area screaming “for fuck’s sake!” at his momentarily switched-off defense was a reminder that he’s a first team player being asked to play support, and doing it with grace despite our protestations.
Watching Dier on the right felt like a return to the early days of the season when we all watched him play out of position (and way out of his age bracket) with maturity and class. Rose was a rabid dog — exactly what we need right now. And our own Jan Solo and Chewbacca were once again the perfect combo for the game. Jan’s bold (almost maniacally egotistical) marauding defense made steady by the presence of a hairy giant that will simply end all attacks with a hearty “Fazio Smash! mrrrrraaawwwwwwwwrrrrrr!”
Against teams like Newcastle that don’t offer a huge attacking threat but are going to be tenacious, Fazio and Jan are our best defensive pairing. Whether they should be chosen against Southampton is another story, but the team needs solidity. And their performance was exactly that.
In midfield, Bentaleb was strong and continues to show why he’s our future. Like Rose he provides a quiet fire that we so desperately need.
“..Fazio and Jan are our best defensive pairing.”
And then there’s Paulinho. The “man of the match” according to the pundits. I watched the game a second time to answer the following question: was Paulinho that good, and was Lamela that bad?
The answer is no. On both accounts.
Paulinho absolutely bossed the midfield. He was the pivot point for all our attacks and steadied us with a solid presence doing exactly what we want from him: going box to box, throwing in tackles, and providing a late running attacking threat. He was strong in possession, assured with his passing, and his delivery from the corner was the stuff of dreams. He was, in my opinion, the man of the match.
But here’s the thing: He also gave the ball away quite a bit and most importantly failed in a couple of key breakaways that could have put the game away very early on. He was good but not as good as he appeared.
Conversely, Lamela was much better than social media is giving him credit for. His constant motion meant he had the most tackles on our team (it also meant the most fouls but I don’t mind that personally). But it also meant that he was often in the perfect position to keep an attack going in a very subtle way.
On numerous times Dier seemed to show too much of the ball on attack, and on numerous time Lamela was right there to stick in a toe to prevent a Newcastle counter and to keep our attack going. He also made the kinds of runs behind the defense that we’ve been dying for. He was the victim of some very poor through balls, and an incredible save from Krul.
He definitely misplaced a few passes but my read of the game is that he’s operating a bit faster than some of his teammates are moving. He’s seeing passes that they aren’t, and as such is putting the ball where they should be and not where they are. That’s a problem to be sure but I’m not sure that the blame can fall solely at his feet.
The biggest criticism of Dembele is often that he dawdles on the ball. I truly believe that he and Lamela have the same problem but they deal with it in opposite manners. Watch back some of Dembele’s moments where he’s not putting the ball through, and you’ll notice that there’s no one doing anything to give him anywhere to pass to. So he goes sideways. Keeping possession, recycling the play, waiting for someone to make the move that he knows they should. Lamela is the same except he just makes the pass assuming that his teammate is on the way.
If you’re going to slate Lamela for misplaced passes, poor retention, and overhit balls then you’ll have to shine the same light on the rest of our team. Paulinho, Eriksen, Chadli, and even Lord Kane of Harryville were all guilty of it against Newcastle. But the other thing that unites all five of them is that they all constantly showed for the ball, constantly looked to play in their teammates, and combined expertly for a 3 goal win.
Also: Chadli looks like a Jedi. But not in a good way. Like he looks like Liam Neeson is going to play him in the film adaptation of this season and it’s going to be bad. Top knots are for samurai’s, DJ’s and Swedish footballers”
Which leaves me with Kane. Thirty-goal Kane. Tied-with-Kun-Aguero-for-most-goals-in-the-Prem Kane. More-goals-than-Costa Kane. The force is strong in him. But with great power comes the Dark Side desperate for another soul to suck in. Can’t wait to watch Levy battle Real Madrid for the fate of humanity. In the film version Modric realizes that the Emperor has had him under a spell and he and Bale make a last minute escape as the Death Star explodes in a fiery ball of Ronaldo’s hair product.
Oh and Eriksen scored from a free kick. That was ridiculous. That was the Jar Jar Binks of goals. It should never have happened, but it made a small number of people very happy and the rest of the world will have to deal with it.
AND NOW AARON’S COMPLETELY RANDOM SCORING SYSTEM FOR THE GAME:
On a scale of “Phantom Menace” to “Return of the Jedi” this game was clearly “The Empire Strikes Back.” While it was an amazing game with some incredible highs and lows, in the end the Death Star is still being built and our heros have a long journey ahead of them.
They’ll need to marshal their forces, make new alliances, learn new skills, sign another striker, midfielder, and defensive backup, and meet some Ewoks before they get Champions League. But they’ve showed us, despite our concerns, that they’re worthy of our support and affection.
MY PREDICTIONS FOR OUR NEXT GAME:
On Saturday morning we face Southampton away. There will be a team sheet with surprises, a few shocking moments, and at some point someone will bemoan our lack of Plan B.
In other words, we’ll win 3-nil.
That’s it for now. May the Spurs be with you.
About the author:
Aaron Wolfe is a screenwriter, storyteller, film editor, occasional podcaster, and proud dad from Brooklyn, NY